Whatever type of human being he might have been, hard taskmaster, Nazi sympathizer, anti-Jew, Walt Disney lived to entertain, to create. His creation, Mickey Mouse is as synonymous with the movies as Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe. The animated shorts he made prior to 1937 were groundbreaking for the art form, as important to cinema as the advent of sound, as the creation of computer-generated animation. Disney believed audiences would watch feature-length animation, and he was right. His features made millions, delighted generations of moviegoers, and before the creation of the home video, DVD and Blu Ray, were ripe for re-release every few years. I first saw the exquisite ‘Bambi’ (1942) in the early sixties and was enthralled by the film, but realized for the first time in my young life, my parents could, and would, one day die. That was the beauty, the extraordinary art in his animated features, while they were magical, there was also a darkness to them, something that made them appeal to adults as well as children.
Yet Disney was troubled that his animated features were not taken seriously by Hollywood. They were considered children’s films, which frustrated him because of the immense artistry and time that went into their creation. He created an arm of his film company that would make live action films as well as documentaries, and it became very successful. His foray into television was phenomenally financial rewarding to him and made him one of the most famous men on the planet. The live action films would include movie classics such as ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ (1954), ‘Dave’s Crockett’ (1955), ‘Old Yeller’ (1957), ‘Pollyanna’ (1960) and ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ (1960) proved huge hits with audiences and critics. Yet still, he felt like an outsider in Hollywood, and only one thing would make that right, an Academy Award for Best Picture!
This year Disney could have one Best Picture nominee, as well as one, perhaps two nominees for Best Animated Film. ‘Black Panther’ (2018) could become the first comic book, superhero adaptation to be nominated for Best Picture, maddening because ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008) and ‘Wonder Woman’ (2016) remain greater Films. ‘Black Panther’ was a huge hit with audiences and critics, and with a cast, and director of colour also brings diversity to the nominees. ‘The Incredibles 2’ (2018) and ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ (2018) could both be among the nominees for Best Animated Feature, and frankly, ‘The Incredibles 2’, is the likely winner.
The return to the Best Picture category would please Old Walt immensely, I am sure his spirit will soar if ‘Black Panther’ makes the cut. I am not sure anyone so coveted that little golden man as did Walt Disney!
About the Author –